A Few Missing Pieces

Three days ago, in a grasp at normal family time fun, the kids asked if we could do a 500 piece puzzle.  So the boys and dad poured it onto the kitchen table and started sorting.

After an hour they abandoned it.  So I picked up where they left off... starting on the edge pieces like I always do. As I struggled to get the edge completed, there was a whisper of “pieces are missing.  Stop now and throw this puzzle away.”  But, when given a direct challenge, I can be stubbornly persistent.

The next day, I approached the table to find that much of my work had been undone by my kids during breakfast.  So I redid the edge, and started sorting the inside pieces by color.

After the kids went to bed that night, Jason and I worked together on the puzzle for close to two and a half hours.  It was frustrating.  At 11:30, Owen woke up in pain from a major stubbed toe that had bruised under the nail.  That was the end of puzzle time for the day.

The next day, after each meal I spent time working in the puzzle alone, chipping away at areas using various methods.

A note about the puzzle at this point, it is of the grand prismatic spring in Yellowstone.  It shows the location of our engagement and to celebrate, we picked up this puzzle in the Old Faithful Lodge that same day, 13 years ago. So, we do really like this particular puzzle, challenging as it is.

That night, I completed the puzzle and was not surprised to find that there are 7 pieces missing, and one chewed beyond usefulness by our puppy/dog.

2020 has really often felt like trying to assemble a life, a routine, a set of expectations while missing several key pieces, and with little to no knowledge of if/when those pieces might return.  So we keep moving forward, broken and frustrated because choosing to scrap the puzzle is not an option and because you want to prove you can do this difficult thing even without all the resources you need.  And then you are done, but not quite.

We are all missing a few pieces these days.  It’s been a long and rough 8+ months in my house.  Staring at this puzzle felt like achievement and disappointment all rolled up into one exercise.  We’ve made it this far, and we’ve lost some things.  Time, health, connections, people, financial footing, friends.  But there still is a picture there.  Do you see it?  Cheers to those of us feeling a bit rough around the edges, chewed up and spat out, and focused on the empty spaces.  But don’t throw out the puzzle just yet.  Sit with it a bit, Maybe you’ll find another piece on the floor under the table after you walk away.  Honor what it has provided and when you are ready, keep it or let it go, but know that you are making space for whatever is coming next.

With you in the good and the bad moments, facing the future together,

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